When a press release about some newly available information-technology (IT) or enterprise-software research includes a statement like the following, I usually run for the hills.
"The report is produced by the World Economic Forum in cooperation with INSEAD... within the framework of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Network and the Industry Partnership Programme for Information Technology and Telecommunications Industries."
The only thing missing are all kinds of acronyms in parentheses. But it could have been worse. According to Wikipedia, INSEAD stands for Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires. Plug that into the above boilerplate and read it three times fast.
But the WEF/INSEAD report about IT and enterprise software intrigued me because it ranked the U.S. fairly high compared to over 100 nations in using IT and enterprise software as
"an enabler of a more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable world."
Here in the U.S. we don't use computers for such touchy/feely stuff and conversely, most of these UN-like reports, comparing whatever to whatever by some indeterminate metrics, usually claim the U.S. is somewhere right ahead of or right behind Uganda in its measurements. I am thinking of those reports that say that U.S. health care and/or U.S. health care insurance suck, even while Arab sheiks check into Mass General by the 747 full and the Premier of Newfoundland, up in that health-heaven Canada, scurrys down to Miami for heart surgery so he doesn't have to "jump the line" in his home country.
Unfortunately I can't find a methodology section in the WEF/INSEAD report but it appears a bunch of people in all those groups mentioned in the first paragraph above asked a bunch of questions of a bunch of business executives. Forgetting the WEF/INSEAD index (because you can make indices say anything you want; believe me, I'm an acknowledged past master at it), the contributory data is revealing. I don't know how different factors were weighted by WEF/INSEAD but it looks like the U.S. was marked down because
- It's relatively hard to get venture capital (try Finland, which is just up there past Newfoundland)
- The latest technologies are not as available in the U.S. as they are in Iceland (I'm beginning to see a trend here)
- U.S. governments are quite hard to deal with (I am assuming that's governments plural)
- U.S. taxes are high (in this category, the U.S. is behind Uganda)
- The U.S. doesn't have enough telephone lines (try Barbados)
- Competition is intense (as compared to those cold places that scored higher than the U.S.)
On the other hand, it only takes 6 days to start a business in the U.S. vs. almost 2 years in Suriname. And the U.S. is second only to Iceland (what is it with these cold places?) in terms of secure Internet servers per 1,000,000 people.
I bet if they had counted unsecured Internet servers the U.S. would win hands down.
-- Dennis Byron